James M. Gavin

Recipient of the Purple Heart Medal
Born Mar 22, 1907

James Maurice "Jumpin' Jim" Gavin was a prominent Lieutenant General in the United States Army during World War II. He was also referred to as "The Jumping General", because of his practice of taking part in combat drops with the paratroopers whom he commanded. In his mid-30s at the time, Gavin was the youngest U.S. Major General commanding a division during World War II.… Read More

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1907 Birth Gavin was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 22, 1907. … Read More
1909 2 Years Old When he was about two years old, he was placed in the Convent of Mercy orphanage in Brooklyn, where he remained until he was adopted in 1909 by Martin and Mary Gavin from Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania and given the name James Maurice Gavin. … Read More


…  In March 1924, on his 17th birthday, he took the night train to New York. … Read More
1925 18 Years Old Gavin arrived at West Point in the summer of 1925. … Read More


After four years of hard work, he graduated in June 1929.
1933 26 Years Old In 1933, Gavin, who had no desire to become an instructor for new recruits, was posted to the 28th and 29th Infantry Regiment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, under the command of General Lesley J. McNair. … Read More
1936 29 Years Old In 1936, Gavin was posted to the Philippines. … Read More


1940 33 Years Old He took an interest in the German airborne assault on the Fort Eben-Emael in Belgium in May 1940, in which well-equipped German paratroopers dropped from the sky at night and captured the fort.
This event and his extensive study on Stonewall Jackson's movement tactics led him to volunteer for a posting in the new airborne unit in April 1941.
In February 1942, shortly after the United States entered World War II, Gavin took a condensed course at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, which qualified him to serve on the staff of a division. … Read More
In February 1943, the 82nd Airborne Division, consisting of the 325th and 326th Glider Infantry Regiments and the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was selected to participate in the Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky. … Read More
1944 37 Years Old Gavin assumed command of the 82nd Airborne Division on August 8, 1944, and was promoted to major general in October. … Read More


1948 41 Years Old Gavin married Jean Emert Duncan of Knoxville, Tennessee, in July 1948 and remained married to her for 42 years until his death in 1990. … Read More


Gavin retired from the U.S. Army in March 1958 as a lieutenant general.
1961 54 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy asked Gavin to take a leave of absence from ADL and answer his country's call once again, to serve as U.S. Ambassador to France. … Read More


1975 - 1977 2 More Events
1983 76 Years Old This practice has continued to and with present-day U.S. airborne units; for example, during Operation Urgent Fury in 1983, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion of a U.S. Army Rangers unit, was the first man out the door of an airplane. … Read More
1986 79 Years Old In 1986, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment created the "Gavin Squad Competition". … Read More
1990 83 Years Old James Gavin died on February 23, 1990 and is buried to the immediate East of the Old Chapel at the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery at West Point. … Read More
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